Transitioning from school to full-time work can feel like a giant leap of faith sometimes. Even with all the theories and practicums that we undergo as part of our tertiary education, many often find themselves thrown into the deep end when starting full-time work.
Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) seeks to bridge that gap with its applied degree programmes that utilise a unique pedagogy – one that integrates work and study. A distinctive feature of SIT’s degree programmes is the Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP), which provides students the opportunity to undertake real work, allowing them to integrate theory and practice, and develop deep specialist skills in their chosen field.
Maru Angeli Calinisan Miranda
Marketing Executive, KH Roberts
Bachelor (Hons) in Food Technology
Meeting The Unexpected
It was SIT’s pedagogy that convinced Maru Miranda that Food Technology was the course for her. “I realised that SIT’s curriculum is very holistic; there is an intensive academic side and the IWSP also exposes us to the industry – we get to build connections in the industry, which is really important,” the 24-year-old Marketing Executive explains, adding that the Bachelor of Food Technology with Honours degree that she undertook also offered her the opportunity to complete her Final Year Project (FYP) in New Zealand, an experience that allowed her a taste of the food tech industries across borders.
Maru’s experiences in SIT allowed her to explore her strengths, weaknesses, and passions more deeply, and she soon found that she enjoyed being able to convey a good message about a product. This interest was put to practice when she was attached to the marketing department of a flavour company, KH Roberts, during her IWSP.
Over her eight-month industry attachment with the company, Maru’s main task was to cover the marketing activities for the company’s annual exhibition at Food ingredients Asia (Fi Asia), but we all know, things hardly ever go as expected. Maru soon found herself playing a big part in the planning of the company’s 50th anniversary event, a role which called for a lot of collaboration with internal stakeholders and external partners. The skills she picked up at SIT proved to be helpful in meeting this daunting task head on. “We have a lot of group projects in SIT, and we’re not spoon fed. It really helped me a lot in terms of working with people who had different opinions. The presentations we did in SIT also gave me more confidence when pitching ideas to the managers,” she says.
Being attached to the company for a longer period also gave Maru the chance to see her work come to fruition, with the 50th anniversary event taking place on her second last day of her IWSP. It was a memorable moment for her, who describes feeling as if “everything has been leading up to this moment.”
Tinkering With Solutions
23-year-old Loh Hui Lin’s experiences echo that of Maru’s. Attached to Thong Siek, the manufacturer behind the popular Dodo brand fish-meat products, the Food Technologist found herself fully utilising the practical skills and critical thinking that her studies at SIT had nurtured. “SIT’s unique pedagogy which focuses on problem-solving helped me to become a ‘thinking tinkerer’,” she explains as she talks about how she approached the unique A3 problem-solving project as part of the curriculum requirement for her IWSP.
For her project, Hui Lin had to identify an issue in Thong Siek, and come up with a solution that could fit on an A3-sized paper. This gave her the opportunity to go down to the production line and understand more about Thong Siek’s production process, enabling her to customise a solution that fits the company well. Through this assignment, she also found an interest in how she could improve the current process to make the final product better. She even went a step ahead to source for her own final year project in Thong Siek, which prolonged her industry exposure.
Loh Hui Lin
Food Technologist, Thong Siek Global
Bachelor (Hons) in Food Technology
Formulas In Excellence
Talking to Hui Lin and Maru for BrightMinds, one gets a strong sense of independence from these driven individuals who are confident in the work they have chosen to pursue. Both ladies attribute their success in part to the applied learning education they received at SIT, which truly prepared them to excel in a real-world scenario.
Both Maru and Hui Lin performed so well in their roles that they were offered full-time positions with their IWSP companies upon their graduation, and this success is hardly one that’s reserved only for a select few. “We have a very positive impression of SIT students, who have been able to contribute and create positive impact through their work. We find they are quick in getting up to speed, probably due to their hands-on and practical-based curriculum,” shared Tan Pok Kiam, General Manager (Sales & Group Marketing), KH Roberts Group, who served as Maru’s supervisor during her IWSP experience. Christina Choo, Assistant R&D Manager, Thong Siek, Hui Lin’s supervisor, adds that SIT students have the drive and initiative to carry out projects according to plan, and is impressed that the students’ studies and knowledge are relevant to their internship roles.
These success stories are evidence of the strengths of SIT’s pedagogy when applied to the relevant industries, but learning can only happen if a student is willing to put in the effort. “We should always do our best despite the challenges we may face. Learning goes beyond the classroom and therefore we should always stay humble and be able to embrace changes,” Hui Lin encourages those who are interested in furthering their studies at SIT. Maru adds, “My advice is to just enjoy the whole journey. It may take time to see your efforts come to fruition, but it’s worth it, so just enjoy the process and do your best.”